Finishing is a process applied to a design’s substrate, or surface, that can provide your work with a specific look and feel, add decorative elements, alter its shape and size or provide functionality and presentation enhancements. Finishes can transform an ordinary design into something much more interesting and unique.
Below is a list of 8 various printing finishes (with images and links) that can be applied to your designs:
A varnish is a colorless coating that can both protect the substrate from wear-and-tear and enhance the look and feel of a design, or specific elements of the design (referred to as a spot varnish), with a glossy, dull or satin finish. Most magazine covers that you buy likely have a varnish applied to them — like the smooth, slippery-like texture that you feel on most magazine covers.
UV varnish example:
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Spot UV Varnish example:
Other types of Varnishes:
- Gloss — typically used to enhances photographs
- Matte (or dull) — helps improve readability; most used in the interior pages of publications
- Satin or silk — the middleman between gloss and matte; not too glossy, not too dull
- Neutral — used to protect the substrate without the appearance of the varnish
- UV varnish — provides more shine than typical varnish; applied with an ultraviolet light
- Full-bleed UV — very high gloss effect; most common
- Spot UV — enhances specific parts of a design; can create a variety in texture
- Textured spot UV – creates a specific texture; ie: leather, rubber, etc.
- Pearlescent — provides more of a “luxurious effect”
Die cutting is when the shape of the paper is altered or areas are cut out to enhance the visual purpose of the design. Often die cuts are used to see beyond a page and onto the proceeding one.
Throw out Fold
A throw out fold allows extra space within a set sized publication. Think of the monthly centerfold image in Playboy magazine for a second (I swear I read them for the articles!) — the magazine, with its two-facing pages, allows the centerfold to be a larger (taking up 3 pages) by utilizing the throw out. The “third” page is folded over the second allowing it to fit within the two-facing pages.
Much like the throw out fold provides a third page to fit within a two-page spread, the gatefold allows a forth page. The left and right panels are folded inward and meet at the spine.
The french fold is an eight-page fold (4 front and 4 back panels) from a single sheet of paper that creates two right angles to each other. Most often used in invitations and announcements.
The Accordion fold
Folds that go in opposite direction to make save space and fit more content into a smaller whole. Most music CD inserts use this technique.
A piece of paper folded that has two or more parallel folds that fold in on each other. It may fold in from the left or right. To allow proper nesting of panels that fold in, inside panels are usually incrementally smaller than outer panels with the inside end panel being the smallest.
Learn how to properly fold paper for each one of the above folds.
Embossing and Debossing
Embossing (above the surface) and debossing (below the surface) is a stamping technique in which particular elements are three-dimensional and textured. This technique can be accomplished with or without (blind) the use of ink or foil.
Foil stamping, which is the process of pressing colored foil onto a substrate with a heated die, can add texture and elegance to a design. It can also be used as a mirror to show reflections adding to the overall effect of a printed piece.
More-or-less a paper treatment, as the edge or edges of the substrate is torn giving it a ragged, decorative look. If you’ve had any printmaking classes, you might be familiar with Rag paper; rag paper is high-quality paper that leaves the papermaking machine with is torn edges left as is.
Printing technique applied to the outside edges of a publication that can give the appearance of color, display words, or create texture (ie: gold or silver).
A ‘half-cut’ that allows parts of a substrate to be easily removed.
Remember, it is important to plan from the beginning if you would like to use any of these finishing techniques, contact your printer beforehand to fill them in with what you like to accomplish. Every printers will require you to setup your files differently to ensure the desired finish is accurate. Also, not every printer has the necessary tools to fit your “specialty” needs, while others outsource finishing options.
If you looking for a good online printer that will be able to assist you in the above finishes, I can attest to Jakprints. They provide a variety of services including laminating, binding, folding, perforation, varnishes, die cutting and custom embroidery and have always done a great job for me.